What is content marketing v2If you are here, chances are you’re as puzzled as I was when I first heard the term “content marketing.” I thought it sounded like a wishy-washy marketing fad, but as social technology (and my knowledge thereof) has developed, I now know that content marketing is an absolutely invaluable tool in any organisation’s online tool box.

So what exactly is it?

The What

Content

So what constitutes the “content” part of content marketing? Put simply, content is valuable media created with the intention to share it over social channels (which include but are not limited to social media, social bookmarking sites and sharing platforms such as Reddit or Slideshare).

As far as types of content are concerned, the most prominent examples are (but are in no way limited to):

Marketing

The marketing side of content marketing, simply put, is the practice of using the above created content to perform a promotional function for you. If you share an informative piece of content on your website and on social channels, you are proving your skills and knowledge to your audience whilst holding their interest, increasing your chances of meaningful brand recognition. People are now equally likely to judge an organisation by their social media presence as well as their website, so it is important to prove your worth over social platforms as well as more established channels.

The main hub of all content campaigns should track back to social media. After creating a new piece of content, you simply must share it on social media (except for email campaigns, unless you also make a blog post out of them). Most of the main social platforms make it super easy to post a link to your content and make it appealing to your readers. Facebook and Twitter in particular take an image from the webpage you are sharing. This draws the eye better than simple text.

Each type of content I have listed above have their own benefits and drawbacks:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Social Media Posts Quick to create, read and share. Limited in the amount of information you can realistically share in one post, best used in conjunction with other content.
Images Easy to produce, and far more eye catching than simple text. Also very easy to get wrong, and can give a very unprofessional look without the right software.
Blogs & Articles Can offer a large amount of information and proof of your expertise in one hit. May put readers off if they’re written poorly or take too long to get to the point.
Videos Very eye catching and appealing to viewers who are pressed for time. Can creatively present data and dry topics. Need the right tools to do a professional job, video production services can be expensive.
Podcasts Fairly easy to produce, great for listeners to tune in whilst commuting or doing work around the house. Need a good quality microphone and some level of skill to create a professionally sounding podcast, as well as a clear speaking voice.
Slideshows Can go in depth with data and explain your points clearly. Not quite as popular as other media, quite formal, so doesn’t suit all industries.
Infographics Very popular way of presenting facts and figures without eliciting snores. Can require a lot of research and need to be presented professionally to make the best impression.
Email Campaigns Delivers your message straight to the user’s inbox. People judge email as a very private space, so bulk mail may be seen as an intrusion. Also, spam filters may make reaching your readers troublesome.

The Why

It might seem like a strange thing to suddenly start doing, especially if you are new to social media or any kind of online marketing, but there are a number of very tangible benefits:

What exactly is content marketing and how is it useful? Click To Tweet

Hopefully this has persuaded you that content marketing is something that you need to get involved with. To the uninitiated, it may sound very daunting, but I assure you: do it properly and you won’t regret it!

Update April 2016: I spoke about content marketing at Wolverhampton Science Park’s SpeedPLUS Networking event on the 6th April 2016, covering many of the points in this article – and a few extra! Check out my presentation below…

Content Marketing Presentation for Speed+ Networking, Wolverhampton Science Park from Jenii Lowe